Psalm 23:4 Study Session IV
We begin this study session with our key scripture Psalm 23:4.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
Have you ever walked through a valley, a long season of what feels like never ending darkness?
I have and one thing I’ve learned is that in order to reach a mountaintop we have to go through some valleys.
The mountaintop offers a beautiful, expansive view of this glorious life but it’s in those valleys where we experience the most growth and gratitude.
Psalm 23:4 reminds us we are never alone “for thou art with me.” We may feel alone but we aren’t.
Feelings are never to be confused with facts.
David writes “though I walk” not “if I walk” meaning it’s not a question of “if” we will go through difficult times but “when.”
We know from verses 2 and 3 God “leads” us meaning we aren’t navigating life alone.
Verse 4 reminds us that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Ps 46:1.
Often in winter we’ll have a period of ongoing dark, overcast days and it’s so easy then to forget the sun is still shining. It’s simply blocked by the shadow of clouds.
This is what going through dark times feels like.
The future’s uncertain, the fear is real and loneliness and doubt creep in trying to convince us God has abandoned us.
Well, Psalm 23:4 confirms He hasn’t.
How is it David could walk through his valleys unafraid?
Because he knew “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – whom shall I be afraid? Ps 27:1
He saw and benefited many times from God’s presence, protection and provision.
Throughout the Bible we see many references to the Lord being our Shepherd.
A shepherd tends sheep, carrying a staff with a hook on the end so when a sheep wanders off, strays too far or gets into trouble, the hook can be used to retrieve the roaming sheep.
The rod part of the staff is designed to protect the sheep from hungry wolves. It’s also used for correction when a sheep needs to be disciplined as well as guiding the sheep along.
I finally understand now why David called the Lord his Shepherd.
Many times God has protected me from the enemy’s attempts to destroy me.
He often too has to reign me in when I start drifting from my lane into places and with people that threaten to pull me from His path.
I’ve lost count of the many times He’s had to discipline me when I disobeyed. I am a bit stubborn but He always corrects me from a place of love like any kind father would.
Aren’t you thankful to have a Shepherd who protects, guides, rescues and disciplines you? I am.
It’s also comforting to know we aren’t out here in this vast wilderness of life alone, prime prey for the enemy to devour.
How many times have we just wanted to lie down in death’s valley and quit due to exhaustion and overwhelm?
This is the exact moment the Shepherd, the one who has walked beside us holding our hand now picks us up and carries us. This is what love looks like.
Isaiah 40:10 says “Like a shepherd He will tend his flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom.”
He also writes “For I the Lord your God will hold your right hand saying to your “fear not for I will help you.” Isa 41:14
Christ beckons us to “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28.
For years I wouldn’t go to Christ because of shame, guilt, condemnation and pride. I deeply regret that.
I now know that “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through Him. John 3:17
And that there is “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Rom 8:1
Instead “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deut 31:8
Jesus said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12.
These are only a handful of the promises of reassurance God gives his daughters.
We never have to walk through our valleys alone, be afraid of the unknown or chart our own course as God goes before us paving the way.
We don’t have to shoulder all of our troubles or live everyday in anxiety.
We can choose to listen to a world that heavily promotes worry and encourages fear or to the Word that is the never-changing, unaffected by circumstance, absolute Truth.
Who do we want walking with us through this valley of uncertain times?
The latest news report, our social media feeds, a pessimistic friend’s negative, cynical opinion or a loving, faithful, ever-present Father who promises to protect and provide for us until the darkness passes by?
There are going to be valleys. It’s inevitable.
But we walk unafraid knowing “Thou are with me.”
And while the world is in turmoil right now we are moving through each day in peace because “thy rod and staff, they comfort me.”
One thing I know for sure is God’s got this!
1. Life can often leave us tired, weary and lacking energy. How do we replenish and recharge? Read: Isaiah 40:28-31 – Ps 73:26 – 2 Cor 12:9
2. There may be times we when feel we are alone. But are we? Read: Ex 33:14 – Matt 28:20 – Heb 13:5 – Gen 28:15 – Josh 1:9